The Bureau of State Payrolls (BOSP) and the Bureau of Accounting's EFT Section would like to thank those agencies that participated in the recent Payroll Survey. Your honest response to each of our survey questions along with the many comments and suggestions you gave provided us with valuable input on how well we are doing and in what areas we need to improve. The purpose of this letter is not only to thank you for your survey participation, but also to provide you with a summary of the survey results, including both positive and negative points, and to let you know what actions we intend to take based on the input received.
Beginning with the positive, 92% of the agencies responding rated the payroll services provided overall as either "good" or "excellent". In addition, particularly high ratings were received for taxation matters, such as W-2 accuracy and timeliness, federal tax deposits, and reporting of Social Security, Medicare and income tax payments. High ratings were also received for the timeliness and accuracy of payroll payments and for satisfaction with EFT payroll payments.
Some of your responses to the survey questions did indicate, however, that certain payroll services were in need of improvement. The concerns raised and the action we intend to take to address these concerns follow:
AVAILABILITY OF PAYROLL TRAINING:
The availability of payroll training by BOSP staff was not sufficient according to most of the agencies that completed the survey. As a result, the Bureau is now offering more training opportunities. Since April 1998, nineteen workshops and training sessions have been held. During FY 1998-99, we will have quarterly workshops/training sessions designed to meet agencies' state payroll needs thus better equipping agencies with the tools necessary to complete all required payroll processes. Additionally, training sessions will be available when new enhancements are put into production. Our intent is to provide training immediately prior to the enhancement being placed into production. We ask that should you have any specific state payroll training needs you either fax your request to Lora Crutchfield at 922-5181 (SUNCOM 292-5181) or e-mail her at Lora_L_Crutchfield@mail.dbf.state.fl.us.
RESPONSIVENESS TO AGENCY QUESTIONS:
Some agencies were not satisfied with our responsiveness to agency questions. Having found that telephone calls were often not directed to the right staff person, we recently updated our website (http://www.dbf.state.fl.us/bosp/bsp.html) to include a listing of contacts and their backups who can assist with specific state payroll subjects. We hope that this will better assist agencies in getting answers to their questions. The Bureau is also exploring other ways to improve the timeliness of its responses to questions and concerns, such as developing Bureau telephone standards. BOSP staff have been advised to respond to telephone calls as received, if possible, but no later than the same day the call was received, even if it is to just let agency personnel know that the call was received and that we will be working toward an answer.
CLARITY OF WRITTEN PAYROLL MANUAL, PROCEDURES AND INSTRUCTIONS:
One-third of the agencies responding to the survey rated us below average on our manual and other written procedures and instructions. We are currently reviewing the entire Payroll Preparation Manual for accuracy and clarity. The revised manual is scheduled for release during November 1998. Please note some areas of payroll processing are very technical, but we will continue to work toward non-technical communications. However, you are encouraged to call us for clarification on any correspondence disseminated by the BOSP.
ASSISTANCE WITH DATA SUBMISSION PROBLEMS:
Assistance with data submission problems was an area of concern for one-fourth of the agencies that completed the survey. Most of the agencies, however, did not clarify the types of problems that have been encountered. The Bureau requests that system limitations be reported to Zadok Coxwell at 414-1872 (SC 994-1872) or you can send him an E-mail at Zadok_E_Coxwell@dbf.state.fl.us. Please report all other data submission problems to Pat Manning at 414-1817 (SC 994-1817) or you can send her an E-mail at Patricia_M_Manning@dbf.state.fl.us.
NEED FOR ADDITIONAL AGENCY DATA SUBMISSION TIME:
Several comments were received that identified a need for additional agency data submission time. Currently, the deadline for paper change orders allows BOSP staff a very small window of time to enter and process changes. The deadline is 12:00 p.m. the day before processing. BOSP staff routinely receives a barrage of paperwork during the last hour prior to cut-off. This allows for a very small amount of time to perform the following procedures prior to processing: batching, keying, verifying, and approving each batch. If the deadline is moved back, it will be impossible, with the limited resources available in the Bureau, for the payroll to be processed timely. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources available to satisfy this request. We will, however, continue to look for a viable means for improving this process.
ON LINE PAY HISTORY:
A few agencies expressed a desire for twelve months of on-line pay history. Our plan is to have thirteen months of payment history available on-line. This should follow the completion of a current project to re-write the adjustment processes, which should be finished by the end of 1998.
ROUTING OF W-2 FORMS:
Another problem noted by agencies on the surveys involved the routing of W-2 forms to the correct agency. This primarily occurs when an employee has been paid by more than one agency during a calendar year. Also, routing problems occur when employees switch agencies in January, and the W-2 has been routed to the last agency paying the employee in the calendar year. We are looking at solving this problem with a system enhancement. We anticipate this routing deficiency will be eliminated beginning with issuance of the 1998 W-2 forms.
ACTIVATION OF DIRECT DEPOSIT AUTHORIZATION:
Some comments were received concerning the length of time it takes to activate a direct deposit authorization. Many steps are involved in making sure that the authorization is set up correctly. These include reviewing the authorizations for accuracy and completeness, microfilming, data entry and verification and pre-notification to the receiving bank (processed on the next available payroll). The pre-notification takes 20 calendar days. The authorization is then active, but a payment is not made until that payee's biweekly or monthly payroll is processed. Generally, authorizations become active within 30 days of the date signed. These steps are taken in order to ensure that payments are deposited correctly the first time. This protects the payee and the State. When we first started to promote the Direct Deposit program, we were understaffed and developed a backlog of EFT forms to process. This has since been rectified and authorizations are processed within the six-week time period.
TIMELINESS OF EFT CANCELLATIONS:
Finally, comments were received relative to the timeliness of EFT cancellations. The agencies indicated a desire to have more time to cancel an EFT. As of June 1, 1998, an on-line payroll warrant/EFT cancellation system was put in place. Agencies can cancel EFT payments until the 11:00 a.m. cutoff time two business days prior to the payday. After this time, the payment records are no longer in our control as they have been sent to the Federal Reserve Bank for distribution to the receiving banks throughout the United States. Once the payment is in the account, it can not be retrieved. Incorrect payments should be collected from the payee after the cancellation cut-off time. The new on-line cancellation process is expected to be a time-saver for agencies since it eliminates the necessity of calling the EFT Section and the submission of back-up documentation. If your agency would like to receive training on the system, please fax your request to Diana Flagg in the Bureau of State Payrolls at 922-5181 (SC 292-5181) or you can E-mail her at Diana_R_Flagg@dbf.state.fl.us.
The Bureau of State Payrolls and the Bureau of Accounting's EFT Section plan to send surveys out annually, and we encourage your future participation. Your comments and suggestions are important to us and will greatly assist us in providing the type of service that you need and want. Again, thank you for your participation in the Payroll Survey.